These are general instructions for how I make my roast turkey. I learned the method of first cooking at a very high heat before lowering the oven temp from Alton Brown. I don’t usually stuff my turkey. I prefer to serve the “stuffing” on the side. I guess that means it should actually be called “dressing.” But I do brine my turkey every year. I’ve found that brining adds a lot of flavor and keeps the turkey moist. These instructions are for an unstuffed turkey. Brining is completely up to you. The directions will work for both brined or unbrined turkeys. The only thing that will change is how long it takes to cook.
- 14-16 lb. turkey, thawed if frozen
- butter, softened
– 1 onion, peeled and quartered
– 2 stalks celery, cut into 3-inch lengths
– 2 carrots, peeled and cut into 3-inch lengths
– 2 lemons, cut in quarters
– 4 sprigs fresh rosemary
– 6 fresh sage leaves
- Place oven rack on lowest position and preheat oven to 500°F.
- Rinse turkey under cold water. Pat dry inside and out with paper towels.
- Place turkey, breast side up, on V-rack in roasting pan.
- Cut a long piece of foil and fold it in half making a double thickness big enough to cover the turkey’s breast. Mold foil to breast making a sort of shield. Set foil shield aside.
- Fold wings behind turkey’s back.
- Stuff cavity loosely with the aromatics. Don’t pack it tight.
- Tie drumsticks loosely together with kitchen string to secure them together. You could also leave them untrussed if you like but it’s not as pretty.
- Rub turkey skin all over with softened butter.
- Pour a little over 1/4 inch of water into bottom of pan so drippings don’t burn.
- Roast at 500° for 30 minutes.
- Remove turkey from oven and lower heat to 325°F.
- Spray inside of foil shield you made with cooking spray and lay lightly over turkey breast. Insert a thermometer through foil into thickest part of breast. Return turkey to oven and bake at 325° until internal temperature of breast reaches 165°F. Ideally, the thickest part of the thigh should reach 175°F.
- If the liquid at the bottom of the pan starts drying up while roasting, just add some more water.
- When turkey is done, transfer to a carving board, tent with foil, and allow to rest about 30 minutes.
- Make gravy with the drippings from the roasting pan.
- Carve turkey and serve.
NOTE: The general rule of thumb for roasting a turkey is 13 minutes per pound. But certain factors like whether your turkey is brined, whether it’s unstuffed, and whether the legs are left untrussed, will make your turkey cook faster. Brined turkeys cook 20-30 minutes faster than un-brined ones. So use the 13-minute-per-pound rule as a starting point to give you a general idea of how long your turkey could take to bake, but I would still recommend using a thermometer for best results.